How Toronto’s mobile COVID-19 testing centres popped up — and became an essential part of the fight against the pandemic

A man receives a COVID-19 PCR test

Inside, the COVID-19 testing site had some of the usual features: doctors in gowns and masks, piles of swabs, directional stickers on the floor to maintain safe distancing.

But the decor was very different from the typical sterility of a hospital. The site’s front window was hand-painted in a vibrant stained glass pattern. Other walls were canary yellow and grey, and the room could be divided by the type of folding partitions usually seen in kids’ rec centres.

That’s because the space is a kids’ rec centre. Usually, it’s a hub for youth in Thorncliffe Park; for four weeks in June and July, it operated as a pop-up COVID-19 testing site.

After doctors at nearby Michael Garron Hospital noticed that many people testing positive at their assessment centre came from a few distinct pockets of the neighbourhood, they worked with community health partners and a network of family physicians to set up a temporary, easy-to-access assessment centre amid the hot spot.

“There’s only so much you can do inside your doors, right?” Jennifer Sampson, the hospital’s special projects manager and COVID-19 assessment centre lead, said outside the pop-up site on a blazing June day.

“You really have to get outside your doors and work in partnership to really make a sustainable change.”

Read more at the Toronto Star